News & Events:
Former NCC President Counsels “We the People” To Follow Museum’s Lead and Develop Philadelphia
AS PRESIDENT of the National Constitution Center for
seven years, Joseph Torsella saw the museum spring to life despite doubters who thought it couldn’t be done. And it taught him a lesson
about prospects for development in the Philadelphia area.
“Philadelphia has suffered for way too long from a ‘We Can’t
Syndrome.’ The Constitution Center’s success shows that this
region’s potential is only limited by its imagination,” Torsella
told a gathering of Penn Law Democrats last March.
He said the NCC had to overcome serious obstacles to become
a popular tourist attraction and major museum of ideas.
Initially, he said, the National Park Service was opposed to the
project because it wanted to conserve the land around Independence
Mall, not draw more visitors. Their objections were
overcome but more bumps lay ahead. For instance, construction
came to a rapid halt, Torsella related, when workers dredging
up the first bucket of soil hit what he described as “almost a lost
city.” The remains of an 18th century church – as well as some
of our forebearers – were found beneath the site.